This past week many of us mourned the death, even as we celebrated the life, of Elisabeth Elliot. And now, in my city, friends I know are grieving the sudden death of a dear friend and co-worker. As I’ve mourned these past few days, I’ve been comforted and steadied by words from another brother in Christ, as he, in the late 1800s, spoke at the funeral of his dear friend, Charles Spurgeon. I pray, for those of you who are weeping and overwhelmed at the loss of your loved ones, that God would use Archibald Brown’s beautiful words to comfort your spirit:
…We bid thee not ‘farewell,’ but only for a little while ‘goodnight.’
Thou shalt rise soon at the first dawn of the resurrection day of the redeemed. Yet is the goodnight not ours to bid, but thine; it is we who linger in the darkness; thou art in God’s holy light.
Our night shall soon be passed, and with it all our weeping. Then, with thine, our songs shall greet the morning of a day that knows no cloud nor close; for there is no night there…
Here, for a little while, shall rest thy precious dust. Then shall thy Well-Beloved come; and at His voice thou shalt spring from thy couch of earth, fashioned like unto His body, into glory.
Then spirit, soul, and body shall magnify the Lord’s redemption…
We praise God for thee, and by the blood of the everlasting covenant, hope and expect to praise God with thee. Amen. (Archibald Brown, “Eulogy for Charles Haddon Spurgeon,” Jan. 31, 1892)
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.
We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.” (I Thess. 4:13-18)
Thanks to Tolle Lege for the Archibald Brown quote, taken from his “Eulogy for Charles Haddon Spurgeon,” as quoted in Tom Nettles, Living By Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Brown gave this eulogy at Spurgeon’s funeral following his death on January 31, 1892. You can read the whole piece at Tolle Lege.
Photo: Swan Nebula, NASA, ESA and J. Hester (ASU)